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Colorado Place Buyers Want to Revise 1981 Pact on Hotel, Park

October 03, 1985|BARBARA BAIRD | Times Staff Writer

The new owners of Colorado Place want to make some substantial changes in a previously approved plan for the completion of the $225-million commercial project in Santa Monica.

Southmark Pacific Corp. must obtain City Council permission to revise plans that were approved in a 1981 development agreement with the city. The agreement was made by the previous owner, Becket Investment Corp., but Southmark is bound by it.

Southmark, which acquired Becket's 70% interest in Colorado Place in January, this week announced its proposal for the second half of the 15-acre project.

The new plan calls for changes in the hotel, office and park uses approved in the development agreement.

Additional Tower

Southmark wants to build a 13-story hotel with 262 rooms instead of two nine-story hotel towers with 396 rooms. It also plans to build an additional six-story office building and provide expanded parking for 3,500 cars.

The company also wants to build a three-acre public park a few blocks away from Colorado Place and, in exchange, to reduce the park space at the project site.

The proposed three-acre park, to be constructed by the developer and donated to the city, would include a soccer field, a baseball diamond, basketball courts, a jogging course, a children's play area and street-level parking. The proposed site is on Colorado Avenue between Cloverfield Boulevard and 20th Street, on land Southmark has agreed to buy from Parker Manufacturing Co.

Nearly two acres of landscaped park area would remain at Colorado Place, which is bounded by Colorado, Cloverfield, Broadway and 26th Street.

"The project's redesigned open space combined with the new dedicated park setting is an increase of nearly five acres in the amount of space available in the neighborhood for community use," said Paul Giuntini, president of Southmark Pacific, a Pasadena-based subsidiary of Southmark Corp. of Dallas.

"At the same time, the amount of floor area at the development will not be increased above that originally approved by the city," he said. The new plan would provide 1,142,907 square feet of development, compared to 1,184,813 under the old plan, officials said.

Becket originated the project and built the first phase, which includes three office buildings and a plaza with restaurants and cafes on the southern half of the site, facing Colorado Avenue. The second phase is on the northern half, facing Broadway.

Becket ran into financial problems because of delays encountered in the first phase, including a six-month building moratorium that the City Council enacted in 1981, according to Robbie Monsma, an attorney and consultant for Becket and Southmark Pacific.

To get a go-ahead on the project after the moratorium, Becket signed a development agreement with the city pledging to build a child care center and 100 units of low- and moderate-price housing.

Becket built the child care center at Colorado Place and has completed 41 units of the housing in the Pico corridor area. As part of its new plans, Southmark has offered to deed the land on which the housing was built to the city.

In addition, the developer has offered the city $2.5 million in lieu of building the remaining 59 units.

"We believe the in-lieu payment offers the city greater flexibility in its ongoing efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing in Santa Monica," Giuntini said. "It also provides these funds at least five years in advance of when most of the originally committed (59) units were required."

Mayor Christine E. Reed said that she and Councilman Dennis Zane previewed Southmark Pacific's plans a few days ago, and she said it is her understanding that the company may make further modifications once city officials and the public have had an opportunity to comment.

The developers have scheduled a public meeting at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 12 at Colorado Place to show their plans to the community.

Opposed to Change

Reed said that she would oppose increasing the hotel part of the project to 13 stories from the original nine stories, a difference of about 30 feet. "I am not interested in any more height on that project than was already approved in the development agreement," she said.

Changes in the original plans "would have to actively involve the neighbors," she said.

The plans have not been formally submitted to the City Council yet, and "are not cast in concrete," Reed said.

Zane said that Southmark officials knew when they bought Colorado Place that it was covered by a development agreement, "so if there are going to be any changes they should be clearly and unequivocally in the public interest."

"To increase the height of the hotel, to increase the density with the addition of a six-story office building and to move the park out of the neighborhood does not seem to me to be in the public interest," Zane said.

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